Surprisingly, despite the development of new multimedia applications and the like, one of the most common functions in a Soho (small office/home office) is also one of the oldest. Desktop publishing is as popular now as when the concept was first created with early personal computers. Of course, today's commercial packages are far more advanced. And with modern, full-colour printers it is possible to create very professional-looking output. Consequently, the number of uses for desktop publishing has grown significantly. There was a time when most packages were used for little else than the occasional newsletter or Christmas card, and often the end result was only marginally better than what could have been achieved with a good word processor. However, thanks to the latest photo colour-capable printers, it is possible to produce photo-quality personalised cards and professional-looking documents of every kind, from newsletters and reports to homemade name cards. Of course, with this kind of versatility, it is no wonder there are so many commercial publishing packages available, from upmarket professional systems like Adobe PageMaker down to specialist greeting card products. Although PageMaker is designed for professional graphic designers, a market even its competitors admit Adobe owns, the company also believes the product has a place in the Soho market. Adobe's greater China account manager Kevin Henshaw said PageMaker, which retails for about $5,000, was ideal for anyone who wanted to produce high-quality documents. And with the package's extensive on-line help and tutorials, it is quite easy for even a novice to get started. However, for those who do not need the high performance offered by PageMaker, the company also makes Adobe Home Publisher, which retails for $580. Home Publisher, as its name suggests, is a cheaper, easy-to-use package without many of the professional features found in PageMaker. Nonetheless, it does have some real advantages over its more expensive cousin. For instance, Home Publisher includes its own word processor, making it quite easy to input text directly into the document, something which is not so simple on PageMaker. Earlier this year, the second major graphics software company, Corel, launched the latest version of its flagship CorelDRAW product. Among the many improvements, CorelDRAW 7 is now packaged with Corel PHOTO-PAINT 7, allowing easy manipulation and insertion of photographs. Thanks to the growth in the use of digital cameras, along with the ability to download pictures from the Internet, the ability to work with photographs is an important feature of desktop publishing packages. The package also includes 1,000 photos. Of course, having 1,000 pictures at your disposal is all very well, if you ever use them. And even with the faster display times offered by MMX, it is still going to take a while to go through them all. Even worse than photos are the tens of thousands of clip art images that come with even the most basic word processor. These days, it is not uncommon to see packages with stickers plastered across them proudly claiming 30,000 or more clip art images. Don't get me wrong, clip art can be a valuable tool. The trouble is that, thanks to digital cameras and the Internet, far more visually exciting images are available elsewhere, and they're free.